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REVIEWS 2018 - Page 9

USURPER: Skeletal Season - Album reissue / Threshold Of The Usurper - EP reissue
(Dissonance Productions)
USURPER is a band from Chicago, who play black/thrash metal. They existed for the first time between 1993 to 2007, and since 2015 they are back again. Several records has been released through the years. And now their second album, "Skeletal Season" (1999), and their EP, "Threshold Of The Usurper" (1997), is being re-released. ..again as it seems, because this is as far as I have found out not the first time these records have been reissued.
Anyway.. These records are said to be a must have for fans of CELTIC FROST, WARHAMMER, HELLHAMMER and NIFELHEIM. It's not totally useless, and they have their better moments once in a while, but I have heard much better. The EP is the best of these 2. That's just my opinion though. So if you're a fan of the mentioned bands, then you should give this a try at least.
This is by the way not the only band named USURPER. There's also a death metal band from Atlanta, a thrash metal band from The Netherlands and a heavy metal band from England.
Release date: Jan. 4, 2019
DEC. 30, 2018

PUNGENT STENCH: Masters Of Moral, Servants Of Sin - Album reissue
(Dissonance Productions)
I thought they had already re-released every album with PUNGENT STENCH. But obviously not. Because here's another one.
This is the 4th album from this controversial Austrian extreme metal band. It was originally released in 2001 by Nuclear Blast Records. Me and PUNGENT STENCH have not always been best friends, but this album is actually an unusually good death metal album for being a PUNGENT STENCH record. It might actually be the best album, according to me, of those that I have heard. So I guess it's not so hard to figure out what you should do now?
Release date: Jan. 4, 2019
DEC. 30, 2018

The TOLKS: Malefunction - Album
(Concorde Music Company)
In general this is mainly rock n roll. Unfortunately it seems like they have totally missed the action and the party vibe that is so important in this kind of rock. So instead of being an excellent band, they are just good, but honestly not much else.
There are a couple of songs that are a little better though, like "Yellow Liquid" for example. But if I buy candy, then I want a lot more than just a couple of good pieces. On the other hand, nothing really sucks either.
thetolks.com   concordemusic.fi
DEC. 29, 2018

SERPICO: Happy Happy Christmas - Single
(Inverse Records)
This should of course have been published around Christmas, but better late than never at all (too much other stuff and not feeling well is my excuses, but now it wasn't released until just a few days before Christmas).
Well, it seems like these Finnish hard rockers felt that the naughty also need some Christmas spirit. So they made this song. And it sounds good enough to me anyway, so you might give it a try.
That's all I have to say..
inverse.fi   youtu.be/o21621yUfPQ
DEC. 29, 2018

PLAGUE YEARS: Unholy Infestation - EP
(Seeing Red Records)
The music is not so bad, some kind of thrash metal. But the singer scream in the same tone more or less all the time. He roar like a fiery moose. I get tired of his voice very fast. But as I said earlier, the music ain't bad at all, so you should at least give this a try. And just because I have a problem with that voice, it doesn't mean that everybody else will.
PLAGUE YEARS are from Detroit, and self-released "Unholy Infestation" around Halloween 2018. It's already avilable worldwide via all streaming services, but will now also get a CD release in January 2019, for those who still buy CDs (I do once in a while).
CD release date: Jan. 4, 2019
DEC. 29, 2018

ONCE UPON A DREAM: Seeker - Single
ONCE UPON A DREAM is a melodic metalcore band from Thessaloniki, Greece. They formed as late as in July 2017, and their first single, "Seeker", was released in May 2018. They are currently working on their first EP.
I have been listening to this song several times now, and sorry, but I don't think I have time for any deeper analyze. As a matter of fact, it's just empty everytime I listen. But if you're a fan of metalcore (which I can't say that I am), then you should give this a try.
(Self released?)
DEC. 28, 2018

DETH CRUX: Mutant Flesh - Album
"Mutant Flesh" is the first LP from this L.A. band. They have previously released a EP, "Pears of Anguish", in 2015. The band features members from the doom band BURIED AT SEA and black/death metallers LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH.
This album gives us approximately 40 minutes of what 1 of the labels describe as "deviant horror punk/gothic rock soaked in neon, blood, sex, and perversion." To me it sounds like some kind of alternative gothic post punk. But no matter what we call it, it's really good stuff. They have many good songs here, so you should absolutely give this a chance.
(Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Legion Of The Dead/Aural Music)
DEC. 27, 2018

ROYAL HUNT: Clown In The Mirror - Album reissue
ROYAL HUNT's album "Clown In The Mirror" turns 25 in 2018. So they thought that it was time for a re-release. But only on digital platforms if I got it right. Stupid, but better than nothing at all. And this is a pretty good hard rock album, with everything that you can ask for (catchy songs, melodic vocals, good musicians etc). So I think you should give it a try at least.
This band comes from Copenhagen, Denmark, and the name ROYAL HUNT appeared for the first time in 1989. Their debut album, "Land Of Broken Hearts", was released in 1991, and their second album, "Clown In The Mirror", in 1993. They have so far released as much as 14 studio albums, and the band is still alive.
(NorthPoint Productions)
DEC. 24, 2018

COLD SWEAT: Break Out - Album reissue
As soon as I hear the vocals I think of DOKKEN back in the 80s (when Don Dokken still could sing). I also think about the L.A. scene at the same time. Good old days when I still was a kid, and there was plenty of these bands. Yes, COLD SWEAT can really take you back in time. And their songs are just as good as anything else from that era. Hard rock with a lot of melody and heavy guitars. This is a great album!
The band's founding member, guitarist Marc Ferrari, formed this band back in 1988, after he had left KEEL. He wanted more musical freedom, and teamed up with guitarist Erik Gamans (WAYSTED) and drummer Anthony White (Mark Slaughter). They found a vocalist/bassist, who was later replaced with bass player Chris McLernon. I'm not sure who was singing at that time, but that guy left on the same day they were to ink a label deal and start recording their first album. 6 months later they found a new vocalist, Rory Cathey, and could finally sign the deal and record their debut album, "Break Out", which was released in 1990 via MCA Records.
28 years later the album has been remastered, and is re-released through 20th Century Music. And as many probably totally missed this record in 1990, here's your chance to check it out. And you should absolutely do that. Now!
(20th Century Music)
DEC. 23, 2018

DEVIL'S HAND: Mike Slamer, Andrew Freeman - Album
This is a new project with producer/guitarist/songwriter Mike Slamer and singer Andrew Freeman of LAST IN LINE. Mike has previously been working with artists like CITY BOY, STREETS (featuring KANSAS singer Steve Walsh), STEELHOUSE LANE, SEVENTH KEY and Terry Brock, just to name a few of them all. The other musicians on this record are Chet Wynd, Andy Zuckerman, Mike Hansen, Casey Purvis and Jeff Valdez.
The music is melodic hard rock, and they have some good stuff here. Nothing unique though, but it works just fine as music in the background when you do something else than just listen really deep.
(Frontiers Music Srl)
DEC. 22, 2018

Johnny Gioeli: One Voice - Album
Johnny Gioeli is or has been involved with HARDLINE, CRUSH 40 and Axel Rudi Pell. But then he woke up 1 day and though that he should do a solo album. And "One Voice" is the result of that idea. Obviously not a bad idea as this guy has some really good songs here. So this could definitely be worth a try if you like melodic rock/hard rock. My favorite tracks must be "Hit Me Once, Hit Ya Twice" and "Out Of Here".
A big portion of the money raised for this album, through a crowd funding campaign, is going directly to help a young man named Joe Barber. Joe needs help in his recovery from an accident last year that has left him paralyzed.
(Frontiers Music Srl)
DEC. 22, 2018

MAGIC DANCE: New Eyes - Album
The band with the highest vocalist? And I don't talk about drugs here. He sounds so loud that no matter how much I lower the volume, his voice break through anyway. It's not impossible that the neighbours can hear him too, even though I don't even play loud. It's not that he's singing very loud or take high notes. I guess he's just a little too high in the mix.
So what about the music then? Extremely soft and melodic rock. La, la, la and na, na, na all the way. Think 80s AOR. And usually I don't have anything aginst this kind of stuff, but this album is a little too much for me. Probably because of the singer. Because this should be good.
MAGIC DANCE was born in 2012 on Long Island, NY as a solo project for singer/songwriter Jon Siejka, a self-taught musician and producer. He has since May 2013 released several EPs and at least 1 full length. For this new album, Jon collaborated with Jack Simchak and Tim Mackey on guitars, Mike Peniston and Kevin Krug on bass, and Kevin McAdams on drums.
(Frontiers Music Srl)
DEC. 22, 2018

PALACE: Binary Music - Album
After 4 records in a row of more or less the same melodic rock thing, I actually get tired of it. This band is not that bad, even though they have some silly lyrics in a couple of songs. In "Queen Of The Prom" they suddenly start to sound like they were QUEEN back in the 70s. Both fun and cool at the same time.
Mainly it's melodic rock/AOR though, and possibly melodic hard rock in a song like "Julia" for example. I like most songs on this album.
PALACE is a Swedish band founded by lead singer and multi-instrumentist Michael Palace. He is heavily infuenced by the 80s, so if you like the sound of that era, then this is your Christmas present this year.
(Frontiers Music Srl)
DEC. 22, 2018

STATE OF SALAZAR: Superhero - Album
I think of very melodic rock/AOR bands like TOTO and CHICAGO when I hear STATE OF SALAZAR. Some songs are good, some are just o.k. and some are not so good (to express myself kindly). It's mainly the pathetic "ballads" that I don't like. They are as best when they rock a little bit more, and that doesn't happen too often.
This is another album that will take you back to the sound of the 80s. But these guys were probably not even born then. Because STATE OF SALAZAR was started in 2010 by 5 students from Malmö Academy Of Music in southern Sweden. Their debut EP, "Lost My Way", was released in the summer of 2012, and the debut album, "All The Way", in 2014. And now their second full length is here for you.
Well, these guys seems to know what they are doing. So if you are a fan of AOR/melodic rock, then I can't see why you should not check this out.
(Frontiers Music Srl)
DEC. 22, 2018

SINISTER'S ARMY: Sinister's Christmas - Single
This is not a regular Christmas song, and for once a original song and not another cover version of a song that we have already heard in a thousand different versions through life. No, this is about a metal Christmas instead (or was it Grinch?). So it's the perfect soundtrack for all you headbangers out there. And it's absolutely not bad. Definitely heavy metal. That's for sure!
SINISTER'S ARMY is led by the American veteran guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Peter Graigs (SCARS OF GRACE) and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Keith Ferrari (LIGHTNING STRYKES, GANGSTER, FORTRESS 1, SONIC 13). They released their self titled debut album about a month ago, and it's also worth a try.
(G13Records/G13Music Production)
DEC. 21, 2018

FERAL: Flesh For Funerals Eternal - Album
Fasten your seat belts, because here we go. Pure old school death metal like it always have been. No surprises here. Just reptile brain death. This will make you think about the classic bands from the early 90s. But do we like it or what? Of course we do!
FERAL is a Swedish death metal band, who formed in a small town called Norsjö in 2003. They later relocated to the nearby town Skellefteå in northern Sweden. They recorded their debut album, "Dragged To The Altar", in 2010, which was released in 2011. "Flesh For Funerals Eternal" seems to be their third full length.
This is something for fans of classic death acts like ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, BLOODBATH, PAGANIZER and similar.
Release date: Dec. 30, 2018 (Transcending Obscurity Records)
DEC. 20, 2018

ARIA: Curse Of The Seas - Album
Russian is not always a good language for heavy metal. They are a really good band, but in this case the language is a big problem for me. It destroy the experience too much. As the vocals are clean/melodic, I guess that this could have been so much better in English instead.
But who am I to judge? It seems like they are a huge band back home in Russia. This album actually went straight to the top of charts when it was released in November. And this is hardly a new band, as they have been playing since 1985. "Curse Of The Seas" is their 13th album, and it was mixed by Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, JUDAS PRIEST, HALFORD).
It seems like most of the band's lyrics are written by professional poets Margarita Pushkina and Alexander Yelin, and not by its band members. Odd but interesting fact.
DEC. 19, 2018

WAN: Gammal Är Äldst - EP
Swedish black metallers WAN was formed in 2009, and their debut, "Wolves of the North", came out in 2010 already. They have since then released 2 more albums and participated on a 3-way split with STYGGELSE and CURSE (I think I have reviewed that last thing).
Now a new EP is here (or mini CD as some prefer to call it), and it's filled with raw energy and darkness. Think of the Scandinavian sound from the 80s/early 90s, and you might get a good idea about this.
Release date: Dec. 21, 2018 (Carnal Records)
DEC. 18, 2018

VANHA: Melancholia - Album
Slow, heavy, melancholy, dark, hopeless, calm, depressive, winter. Those are the words I think of when I listen to this Swedish doom/death metal band.
It's often heavy and melancholy. Both when it comes to music and atmosphere. But there's always good melodies. And these 6 pieces are pretty long songs, 6,45 to 9,37 minutes. This is hardly a party album, but more like a album that you can listen to after a hard and heavy day.
VANHA came to life as a side project for multi-instrumentalist Jan Johansson (FROSTVANG). His mission was to explore the bleakest, darkest and heaviest of sounds in the field of doom/death that was pioneered by seminal acts like ANATHEMA, MY DYING BRIDE and KATATONIA. Jan was soon joined by the drummer Jesse Oinas, and the duo soon recorded the debut album "Within the Mist of Sorrow", which came out in 2016. Jesse left in 2017, and Jan have been working by himself since then.
Release date: Dec. 30, 2018 (Black Lion Records)
DEC. 18, 2018

IN SHADOWS AND DUST: Enlightened By Darkness - Album
IN SHADOWS AND DUST blend Swedish death metal like early NECROPHOBIC, IN FLAMES and AT THE GATES with the melodies from NAGLFAR and DISSECTION. It's a combination that works good. But it's not until the third track, "Revenge", that it start to sound really good. This is absolutely something that you should check out. It's old school and have a classic sound, but it doesn't sound exactly like a thousand others. I didn't say that this is something unique though. But it's damned good.
IN SHADOWS AND DUST seems to be a 1-man project with multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Stephane Thirion as the only member.
Release date: Dec. 21, 2018 (Redefining Darkness Records)
DEC. 17, 2018

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